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When Content Marketing Fails & A New PPC Solution


There comes a fork in the road moment, when it’s time to say, ‘this is not for us.’ A content marketing approach may not work for everyone. Let me prove it.

I’ve seen it for myself and have had to dig deep into the reason why and to find an answer.

By the way, this is not a ‘this is the end of content marketing’ type of article. It is here to highlight that success goes beyond a content calendar and thinking that tweeting at 4pm is the Golden Fleece.

What Happened Last Week

I have been working with a customer for nearly a year to get them to take on board an owned media approach. This was driven by both sides creating content each month to a subscribed audience.

A great team of people to work with, but the majority of work was slowly getting passed over with a ‘can you do this’ approach and the responsibility being handed over from customer to agency was becoming more prominent.

There was no ownership and responsibility to monitor and control internally, on a regular basis.

Then came the closing curtain, when the company said, ‘we’re going to stop creating.’

This is the problem that many companies face.

There can become an apathetic approach where a purely transactional mindset outweighs the belief of a bridge connecting a company with their audience (which is what content marketing is all about).

Stop The Reliance On Marketing Dashboards

Companies are driven by a reliance on marketing dashboards rather than creating outcomes and whilst there has to be a return, a content approach is more than just traffic and impressions. According to AdAge (from December 2015) our reliance on impressions are ‘detrimental to marketing and communications growth and is in direct opposition to reality.’ That’s a pretty bold statement that you can read for yourself.

In Adobe’s Digital Distress survey, 40% of 1,000 questioned businesses thought their company’s marketing was effective and 68% felt more pressured to demonstrate a return on investment on their marketing spend.

This is also mirrored from Hubspot’s 2015, State Of Inbound Report, where the top challenge for small businesses was proving the ROI of marketing activities.

You Can’t Hand Over Your Content Marketing Homework

The hired gun approach does not work. It is the same as handing over your homework to someone else to do it. I wrote an article in 2014 called ‘Paying Someone Else To Do Your Homework’ it is still as relevant now.

A huge lesson here, outsourcing your whole marketing effort will never shape a company culture. This has to be driven from within a business. This is what a company stands for and completely believes in.

This whole idea of understanding what your company stands for, you can listen to in more detail on Show 70 of the Marketing Homebrew podcast. It’s all about understanding the core of your business and why you do it.

Companies have to move away from the ‘when will be number one on Google’ and take on board a new version of PPC.

Everyone loves an acronym.

PPC…no not Pay Per Click.

I’m talking about…


I created an article last August that highlighted the main reason why content marketing fails. It stumbles when a company does not embrace through every level of a company. It fails when it becomes recognised as just another project that doesn’t build momentum.

To encourage a company to engage with a content approach is one thing, to instil a brand new function throughout a business is another.

The World Doesn’t Need More Marketers

I now understand that once a company takes on board a content approach, it will only work with a P(eople) P(assion) C(ulture) approach.

The world today doesn’t need more marketers filling up timelines with inspirational quotes, ‘how to’ articles and providing ‘bespoke solutions’ and ‘online visibility.’ It doesn’t need full-blown CMS packages provided on top of new website designs and the revamped company logo.

More marketers are not the answer, more people who care and want to make a difference is the solution this supersedes any investment in a corporate image.

When people enjoy what they do it can help other people make better and more informed decisions. If you care more about the content that you create (whether it be written, audio, visual) then you can make a difference for people consuming what you produce.

To coincide with more care in creation comes structure.

A return on investment has to be determined by the objectives that are set in place. For instance, if a company is to focus more on blogging, there has to be a set objective. Is it to drive more subscribers, is it for further social reach? If a company is looking at more gated content such as ebooks and webinars, then what is the objective? Is it more content downloads or encourage higher return rates for other content. Both are attributed to sales, but at different stages of the customer journey (blogging linked to brand awareness and downloads linked to building leads).

All That Passion Is, Is A Strong Belief

The company I was working with fell out of love with content creation and the objective to build an audience on their side of the fence. It started to become a chore, so much of it was handed over and the interest waned. It made me wonder, is passion something that you need to already have or can it be instilled?

I thought long and hard about this (before I typed ‘passion quotes’ in Google to steal the glory). Passion is linked to training.

You can’t create the initial spark, but you can fan the flames and peak people’s interest to discover and find out more about the discipline they are in and the world around them.

All that passion is, I believe, is a strong belief. The more you find out, the more you believe. The company I was working with didn’t want to find out more, they were just happy with how the marketplace happened and their role within it. This meant they lost because they lost their appetite, over a relatively short period of time.

The People, Passion, Culture Model

The PPC model is where we are all moving if we are looking to make a difference.

What we are all caught up within today is to continuously prove that what we’re doing works and if it doesn’t result in the quickest return in the shortest time possible it is shelved.

We all have to plan faster, experiment more efficiently and adapt our businesses in order to facilitate some kind of success.

Many have to prove to someone else that they are generating more leads, more traffic and becoming ever more popular in a room full of strangers.

Alternatively you can adopt an approach where responsibility and change is part of a business. A company invests to shift from broadcast to culture, from proclamation to people and from purpose to passion.

Starting To Round Up

The content that you create can help you build bridges and form links in a way that you have never had before. If it just doesn’t feel right and belief that it won’t be embraced within your company and becomes a step to far, that is totally fine.

The path has already been laid out to us for generations to behave a particular way when it comes to communications.

It is the passion that shapes the people and the culture that can spark an approach that differentiates from everybody else.

A content driven approach can provide reward, but it is so much more than curation, creation and distribution. A company structure that has clear objectives is built within a framework centred on people, passion and culture.

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